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Diet

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What is a Gastroparesis Diet?

By Lauren Romano
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Gastroparesis, a digestive disorder, is essentially having a paralyzed stomach so the stomach delays emptying. The stomach doesn't contract normally and digestion is difficult. Because of this condition, there must be a diet adjustment. From eating smaller meals to skipping high-fat foods, the changes can make a big difference and can help make it easier to control the condition. Skipping certain versions of foods or drinks, for example, avoiding alcohol and choosing water instead, can allow people to have enjoyable foods without feeling deprived.

It is vital when first being diagnosed to start out with very light foods, for example sticking to light soup, crackers and water. With the gastroparesis diet, it's important to incorporate foods and other beverages slowly to gauge how the stomach reacts. Talking to your doctor can help form a diet according to each person's specific needs.

Due to the digestion issue, eating smaller, more frequent meals as part of the gastroparesis diet can be advantageous. Those with the disorder tend to feel fuller more quickly so eating something small can allow for the person to feel comfortable instead of weighed down. Smaller meals are usually digested more quickly, so they make digestion easier and more comfortable. Water is best to drink often, especially while eating meals.

When it comes to beverages on the gastroparesis diet, as with foods, the less heavy they are the better. Alcoholic beverages can exasperate the stomach, so they are best avoided. Depending on the individual, caffeine may or may not upset the stomach. It is also better to skip whole milk in favor of lower fat versions.

Because fiber can be difficult to digest, it is best to avoid all together. High-fiber foods such as oranges, broccoli, and oat bran should be skipped as part of the gastroparesis diet. Opt for fruit and vegetable juices, applesauce, skinned vegetables and other low fiber versions.

As delicious as it is diving into cheesecake, flaky pastries or frosting rich cake, it is better to avoid them. For the gastroparesis diet, choose substitutes such as custard or pudding. There are also many low-fat yogurt options that taste exactly like their high-fat solid counterparts, such as cherry cheesecake.

Fibrous meats, such as steak, should be skipped in favor of other options such as lean ground beef. Fish and poultry in moderation are also excellent options. Egg noodles are also better to eat than regular pasta.

A gastroparesis diet may seem difficult to get into, but after awhile it may seem more habit than a struggle. Keeping a food journal can also help keep track of which foods settle well and which don't. Staying in touch with the doctor can allow for adjustments and medication if necessary.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By bachnd — On Jun 09, 2015

Can the vagus nerve control emotions?

By Rotergirl — On Mar 28, 2014

Gastroparesis is tough to have. It can be a side effect of diabetes because of nerve damage. My dad had it, and it's just a never ending cycle. Of course, 20 years ago, they didn't know as much about it, so there wasn't as much focus on a gastroparesis diet. it would have been hard on him regardless, though, since he was also on dialysis, where fluids are restricted.

It's not easy, no matter how well it's managed.

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